When bounding intervals come up, and they do come up, the term is synonymous in my mind with Jello.  Yes jello.  Mushy, slimy, wiggly, unstable jello.  Intensity, going hard, is part of my life and I don’t mind that.  We like to say if racing is the hardest thing I do then I’m not ready to race.  And so just like taking my vitamins I do intensity atleast once a week.  Yesterday was one of those days.

The scene was set perfectly for the sludge I compare bounding intervals to.  I woke up to a glum overcast sky and the continuous patter of rain hitting the lodge roof.  Perfect.  We headed out into what seemed to be our first cold misty fall morning of the season and began our warm up. Winding our way through the intersecting ski trails our shoes were wet within seconds.  Finally we made our way to the bottom of the ski hill to begin what would be an hour of throwing my body up the hill over and over again.

Nine times, nine times up the hill, nine mind numbing leg wobbling repeats.  At the end of each one I hang myself over my poles panting, trying desperately to force oxygen back into my body.  My whole torso shuddering at the attempt to fill my lungs to the top.  The sudden rush of oxygen would make my head feel disconnected from my body.  Then I would head back down the hill to the bottom so I could repeat it all over again. 1, 2, 3, 4…by number 4 I could no longer feel my legs.  Instead I relied on my bodies own ability to catch itself as I would bound away.  One foot after the other.  Up and up. 5….5 half way done. 6…by number 6 I start making myself promises to make it through the last few intervals.  I promised myself if I could make it through all 9 that I could sit down.  That was it, that was all I needed.

After the final time up the hill I collapsed over my poles.  Rolling over onto my back, my arms and legs limp all around me, I closed my eyes.  I can’t even imagine what I must of looked like if someone had been there to watch me.  This crumpled rag doll, a dejected mess on the side of the alpine slope.  It didn’t matter, the grass was cold and wet and finally my breathing slowed down to a normal rate.

I picked myself up and smiled.  That was hard, but I had done it, I made it through all my intervals.  I hadn’t faded, I didn’t quit…I had gotten stronger, I had gotten a little tougher.  As I headed home, one foot in front of the other.  Tired but content.

Bounding may have turned my body and mind into jello that morning but I kept moving.  I kept pushing, charging, pounding.  Every time we push ourselves we challenge our bodies and minds.  To dig a little deeper.  Its my way of asking myself, “What you got?” and hopefully my body and mind responds “More than you think.”  I know there will be days when I don’t have anything more to give, when I’m drained and tired and weak.  …but as much as I am training my body to go harder I’m also training my mind to give me that extra push when I think I’m done.  Sometimes its not our fitness that holds us back.

Time trials are a good “gut check”.  This is in Bozeman at the finish of our uphill time trial last fall…feeling like jello.

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